How to choose grout color: Tips for picking a practical, complementary hue

Be confident about how to choose grout color to go with your tile. This is what you need to know

Trio tiled white bathroom with gilded accents and large mirror
(Image credit: Bert & May)

Wondering how to choose grout color? There’s a wide range of colors out there these days, so knowing which suits your tile the best is crucial to the finished appearance of your floor, wall or backsplash. There are practical implications, too, as some grout colors need less cleaning.

Selecting the right grout color should be influenced by the color of your tile, but the format and style of the tile are important, too, as is the effect you want to create. But if that sounds a little overwhelming, don’t worry. Our guide has all the information you need to make the right choice. 

To find out how to choose tile grout color, just scroll down. Don’t miss our bathroom remodel ideas feature, either, which will provide you with inspiration for every part of your room. 

How do you pick grout color?

There are an amazing array of grout colors on offer, and if you haven’t chosen tile grout recently, you might be surprised by how much choice there is. White is a classic option, but you can go for neutrals such as gray or beige, hues like blue, purple, red or orange, along with black and even sparkling finishes, including silver and gold.

Although there is huge choice on offer, to start with you really just need to decide between two broad approaches:

1. Match grout color to the tile: If the grout color is the same as the tile color, then the grout lines won’t be obvious, and neither will the shape of individual tiles. 

The tile itself can be as bold or understated as you like with this approach; we’re talking attention-grabbing color, extravagant veining or a textured finish, for example. But whether it’s on the wall or the floor, the combined effect of grout and tile will be a more uniform one.

Bear in mind that because there is such a wide range of grout colors on offer nowadays, this effect is possible even if you pick a tile in a shade such as pink, for instance.

Matching grout color to the tile could be a particularly good strategy in small room where the less busy finish can help it feel larger. 

2. Contrast grout color with the tile: If the grout color is a strong contrast to the tile, then the eye will be drawn to the individual shape of the tile and the overall laying pattern you opt for. This option can add energy to a room scheme.

You might have light tile with dark grout or dark tile with light grout (black and white is a classic version of this and works wonderfully with subway tile), but either way creating a contrast makes tile more of a feature.

Bear in mind that a dramatic contrast between tile and grout could be overwhelming used over a large area of a room; you might want to stick to using it to zone a part of the space instead.

Should grout be lighter or darker than tile?

We’ve talked about the option to contrast the grout color with the tile, but for much tile that leaves going darker or going lighter than tile as options. So, which should it be? Well, grout could be lighter than tile, but it’s also possible to choose a grout that’s darker than tile (like in the photo at the top of this article). Either can create a look you’ll love, so use these guidelines to help you choose:

Grout that is darker than tile will draw attention to the pattern in which it’s laid. It’s the contrast we talked about above. You might choose this for subway tile, for example, but overall, dark grout teamed with a lighter tile will make the effect of tile more dramatic and eye catching.

However, a grout that is darker than tile can also be a great way to emphasize a particular color in a tile that’s not a single color. You could pick up its darkest shade or even one that’s a little darker with the choice of grout. This works well with marble and marble lookalikes, for example.

Grout that is lighter than tile can make a statement when tile is dark, framing the individual tile. 

It’s also an alternative if your tile isn’t a solid color but a blend. In this case, you might want to pick a shade of grout that’s just slightly lighter than the tile, which will create a cohesive effect over the wall or floor.

You might take a similar approach with a tile that replicates the appearance of wood, choosing a grout of a slightly lighter shade than the tile itself that blends the two elements effectively. 

Ready to get started now you know how to choose grout color? Use our guide how to grout tiles to get a professional finish in the bathroom or kitchen.

What color grout is easiest to keep clean?

The grout color that’s easiest to keep clean is likely to be a neutral shade such as a gray, or a tone of beige. These are super-practical choices for both kitchen and bathroom tile, and will demand less maintenance to stay looking good as new.

White grout is always going to be the most demanding to keep looking pristine, of course, so even with white tiles, you might want to choose a gray grout that will blend in subtly but cause you less work in the long run. 

But don’t forget that white grout can be striking, especially in a contrasting scheme, so we’d never say never if you’re prepared to keep it looking good, and you can find out how to clean grout effectively and efficiently in our special feature.

Sarah Warwick
Sarah Warwick

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor writing for websites, national newspapers, and magazines. She’s spent most of her journalistic career specialising in homes – long enough to see fridges become smart, decorating fashions embrace both minimalism and maximalism, and interiors that blur the indoor/outdoor link become a must-have. She loves testing the latest home appliances, revealing the trends in furnishings and fittings for every room, and investigating the benefits, costs and practicalities of home improvement. It's no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house revamper. For Realhomes.com, Sarah reviews coffee machines and vacuum cleaners, taking them through their paces at home to give us an honest, real life review and comparison of every model.